Best Teething Toys for Infants

Like most new moms, I checked the clock 24/7 to make sure Amira was fed at the right time. The moment I saw her put her hand in her mouth, I dropped everything, grabbed my Boppy and nursed her immediately.

Eventually, that routine changed. Amira started putting her hand in mouth and didn't want to nurse. "Wow, is it time already?" I thought. "Yup! She's started the process of teething. She's going to try to put everything in her mouth," my pediatrician surprised me as I wondered how quickly time was flying. "Teething? But she's only 4 months old!" After doing some research and talking to my experienced mom friends and sister, I realized she was definitely teething. She keeps putting her hands in her mouth, along with all of her rattles and toys. She's constantly drooling, tugging at her ear, and has a few moments of fussing for no other reason than teething.

I started to search for teething toys that would help soothe Amira's aching gums. Some were better than others, so I thought I'd share my favorites here on the blog. Hopefully, any moms with teething babies will find this post to be helpful. And remember, every baby is different so test out a few and see what your little one prefers.

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Safety 1st Ellie Elephant Teether by Mombella

This is on the top of the list, because Amira absolutely loves it! I can tell that it really soothes her gums and my favorite part of this teether is that the whole thing is ok for her to nibble on. Some teethers have harder handles and just the top part is soft, but your little one can put any part of this silicone teether in her mouth and it'll do the job. Amira sometimes has the handle in her mouth and sometimes has the textured tip that sticks out from the top. It's adorable seeing her bite on it in all directions with drool everywhere. The handles are also very easy to hold, which was a huge plus since some of the teethers I found were difficult to hold onto.

Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether

One of my dear friends gifted this to Amira and I know it's a popular training toothbrush and teether used by many moms. Amira had a difficult time holding this one early on, but she has a good grasp now. The soft silicone bristles help soothe her gums and the peeling handles are the perfect size for her little fingers to hold. I like that this teether can eventually be used as a training toothbrush when her teeth actually come out. I've put this teether in the freezer as well and Amira seemed to really enjoy the cool sensation when she bit down on it.

MAM Mini Cooler Teether with Clip

I love that this teether comes with a clip. When a teether covered with spit falls on the carpet, you have to rinse or wipe it. The clip keeps you from worrying about the teether falling, which I love! The MAM Teether has water inside of it, which is perfect for putting in the refrigerator to help soothe your little one's gums. I like the shape of this teether, because Amira is able to reach her gums all the way in the back. The ring is the perfect size for her to hold onto and it's lightweight, so it rarely falls.

Chicco Fruity Tooty Teether

This was one of the first teethers I bought and to be honest, I didn't like it at first. Amira had a hard time holding onto it and getting it into her mouth in the beginning. Now that she's 6 months old, she has a better grip, so she's able to hold onto it for a longer period of time as she bites down it. The material is a little harder than the other teethers, but Amira seems to enjoy it. Every baby is different, so your little one might enjoy it sooner than Amira did!

I hope this list helps any of you moms out there looking for suitable teethers for your baby. If you already have teething toys, which ones does your little one enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

 

Best Baby Books for Newborns

I loved books as a child (and still do). I have fond memories of visiting my local library with my mom and getting lost among the books and the little stools that had legs that looked like cute little pencils. I also remember getting excited every time my teacher passed out the colorful Scholastic book catalogs. I loved how those catalogs felt as I turned each colorful page to see which book I would order next. Book fairs at my elementary school would get me pumped. I wanted every book I picked up. The illustrations and stories in these books allowed me to imagine the most amazing places and I remember getting lost in a new world every time I read a book. It sounds cheesy, but it's true!

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Now that I have Amira, I get excited whenever it comes time to reading to her. I have been reading to Amira ever since I was pregnant with her. It always felt funny to read to her before she was even born, but every now and then I just read my own books, magazines, articles, and recipes aloud. When she was finally born, I was eager to open up the books I bought for her. I never realized how much I would love reading to her and how much she would enjoy it. Amira's eyes light up with each illustration and she smiles as soon as I pick up a book and bring it close to her. As I read to her, she listens attentively, waiting for the next page of colorful drawings to come up. It warms my heart every. single. time.

Best Baby Books

So today, I thought I'd share just a few of our favorite books (so far). Whether you're shopping for books for a friend's baby shower or purchasing books for your own little one's first library, I hope this list helps: 

  1. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
    One of many classic children's books written by Eric Carle, The Tiny Seed was the very first book I ever read to Amira when she was born. She sat in her swing as I read the story, but she mainly wanted to just look at the bright and colorful illustrations. It's a story about a tiny seed that grows to be a huge flower after surviving many adventures through the seasons.
  2. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
    One of my friends shared this book with me and I absolutely love reading it with Amira. I might even love it more than my baby. Every time I read a story from this book, I learn a new fact about an outstanding woman or girl who has achieved something amazing. Each story is short, simple, and easy to read. There's a beautiful illustration of each person along with their story. Amira loves staring at the colorful portraits while I read about the achievements of women through time. Sharing these empowering stories with my daughter makes me so excited to see what she'll achieve one day!
  3. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
    This one's another classic. I read this to Amira right after I lay her down in the crib to sleep. The moment she sees the cover, she has a huge smile on her face. The rhymes are perfect for funny voices, which babies love, and the colorful illustrations keep them focused on the book. If there's one book I love, it's this one, just because it actually puts my baby to sleep sometimes! 
  4. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
    Books shouldn't be entertaining just for the baby. You should love reading them too! The Wonderful Things You Will Be hits that emotional spot in my motherly heart. The story is so sweet and gets you thinking about all of the wonderful things your baby will do as she's growing up. The illustrations are soft and beautiful. You'll love this book just as much as your little one does. Trust me.
  5. Five Pillars of Islam by Anwar Cara and Azhari Zulkifli
    While looking for Islamic children's books, I thought this one was great for babies. It's a very simple read compared to other Islamic children's books and covers the topic of the 5 pillars of Islam. Amira enjoys seeing the characters in each scene as they illustrate the meaning of each pillar.
  6. Pantone Color Books by Pantone
    This set of six books was one of the best gifts Amira received from a dear friend of mine. Each board book is devoted to one color of the rainbow and has cutouts of objects that represent different shades from the Pantone collection. The books are very well designed and Amira enjoys grabbing them to touch the cutouts. I like taking one with me in my diaper bag when I'm out, so Amira can look through it on the go.  
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    I remember this book being one of my favorites growing up, so I needed to share it with Amira! I mean, who hasn't read The Very Hungry Caterpillar? My mom even remembers reading it to me, which makes it even more special. It's another Eric Carle classic that gets Amira giggling every time we get to the part where "...he was STILL hungry!" This one's great for silly voices too. Did I mention I sound crazy when reading to my baby? Anything to get our little ones to smile and laugh, right?
  8. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    I read Goodnight Moon with a soft voice right when Amira is ready for bed. The illustrations pop with bright red and green, which keeps her eyes moving throughout the page with curiosity. It's a short and simple read that gets her ready to snuggle, cuddle, and fall asleep.
  9. Peek-a-Boo Forest by Lamaze
    The cloth pages of this book make a crinkly sound, which gets Amira's attention immediately. If your baby's obsessed with the crinkly sound the diaper wipes bag makes (is mine the only one?) then she'll love this book. Peek-a-Boo Forest has flaps that you pull back to reveal which animal is hiding around the forest. It's an adorable book that works as a bedtime read or a fun game of peek-a-boo with your little one.
  10. My First Shapes with Frank Lloyd Wright by Mudpuppy
    I have always loved Frank Lloyd Wright's geometric creations as a designer and now love them as a tool to teach my baby about shapes. I bought this book as a souvenir for Amira while we were at the Guggenheim in New York. It's a wonderful book to teach your baby about colors, shapes, and of course, a little architecture. 

There are many more books I'd love to add to this list, but I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our first favorites! Which books are your little one's favorite? Let me know below!

Breastfeeding Mothers: Here's How to Feed Your Baby at Weddings

When Amira was born, I made it a goal to try my very best to breastfeed her. I would nurse her and also gave her bottles of breastmilk. She took the bottles without any trouble. Then, one day at a friend's Mehndi party (an event South Asian couples have before their wedding ceremony), Amira wouldn't take the bottle of breastmilk. She cried the moment it touched her lips. I tried everything to get her to drink from the bottle: I had someone else try to give her the bottle. I tried giving her the bottle. I made sure the milk didn't get spoiled and checked the temperature. I even checked to see if the lipase was the issue. Nothing. Everything was fine with the milk and the bottle, but Amira absolutely refused to drink the milk from it. She wanted to feed from me no matter what.

Nursing in Public for the First Time

Thankfully, my mom was also at the party and was able to help me out. It was the first time I ever nursed Amira in a public setting, so I needed the help! It was also the first time I went to a large party after having a baby (she was 2 months at the time and my recovery was a bit difficult), so I already felt a little overwhelmed, self-conscious, and physically drained. I put on my nursing cover over my shalwar kameez and was somehow able to feed her Alhamdulilah. It was uncomfortable for Amira with all the beadwork on my dress (Pakistani dresses are beautiful, but not nursing friendly usually) and it was difficult for me, but I was just happy she was fed and felt much better.

For the next few weeks, Afroz and I tried feeding Amira milk from the bottle, but she continued to refuse it. Somehow, she developed a preference to feed only from me and nothing but. I felt grateful for the blessing of being able to breastfeed her, but I worried about what I would do when I was out and about. I had so many wedding events coming up and I needed to figure out an easier way to nurse her in fancy Pakistani attire. I didn't want to get custom dresses made or buy new ones, so I had to figure out how to breastfeed in the dresses I bought for the weddings.

How to Breastfeed at a Wedding in a Formal Dress

Here's what I came up with when figuring out the best way to nurse in formal South Asian dresses while attending wedding events, but it can be applied to any wedding or formal event. And this might not be the best way, but it worked for me:

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1. Less is more.
Wear elegant dresses that have a little kaam (beadwork) on them. Holding your baby will be much easier if the side you hold her on isn't loaded with beadwork. Your baby will be more calm and comfortable without beads and embroidery itching and scratching their skin. "But I need to look fancy for this wedding. I need more kaam on my dress!" The cut and form of the dress are what make it look elegant. Many people think wearing shalwar kameez and lenghas with loads and loads of kaam make them fancier, but in reality, less kaam and a well fitted dress will make you look much better. 

I wore the dress above for my friend's wedding. It was so comfortable and taking care of Amira was so much easier during the event. I rolled it up and used a nursing clip (mentioned below). For similar dresses, check out Lena Boutique on Instagram. 

Breastfeeding Nursing Clip
Breastfeeding Nursing Clip

2. Make sure the dress has buttons, a zipper, or is easily rolled up.
Most Pakistani dresses don't have a zipper or buttons in the front. If you can make a custom dress with buttons or a zipper, go for it! I had a dress with a zipper made for Eid and it made my life so much easier whenever I had to nurse Amira. If you can't get a custom dress or have already have a dress you really want to wear, try it on beforehand and make sure you can roll it up easily. Then, clip on a LatchPal Hands-Free Nursing Clip. This thing was a life changer for me! Half the struggle of breastfeeding in Pakistani dresses is holding the dresses up while nursing, so this clip holds up the fabric while your little one nurses comfortably. Just throw on your nursing cover (I love my En Babies 360 cover) and then put on the clip on the neckline for your shirt, roll up your shirt, and clip the fabric up. You can then focus on your baby and not on keeping your top folded up! It also works well for any other clothes that don't have buttons or zippers. Buy it on Amazon here.

3. If you feel more comfortable feeding your baby in private, see if there's a little room near the women's restroom with sofas or ask the bride/host in advance if you could nurse in the bridal room.
For one of the weddings I attended this summer, I was able to nurse Amira in the bridal room. The bride was a close friend and was completely fine with me going into the room during the party. If you don't know the bride very well, ask someone from her family or friends (if you can) if it's ok for you to borrow the bridal room for a few minutes. The room is not being used during the main event and is usually empty once the bride is done getting ready, so don't hesitate to ask!

For another wedding, there was a little room with couches attached to the bathroom, so I was able to nurse there. They also had the changing table there, so it was really convenient! You can also call the venue in advance to see if they have a private room you can use, so you know exactly where to go right when your baby is hungry. Before I attended a bridal shower, I called the venue the day before and they told me the perfect spot to nurse Amira when I got there. I felt so much more calm as a new mom who had just started attending parties with an exclusively breastfed baby Alhamdulilah.

4. Always remind yourself: Don't feel ashamed for nursing your baby in public, even during a wedding reception.
I could feel myself turning red the first time I had to nurse Amira during the Mehndi party. Feeding at a mall or restaurant was one thing, but during a wedding party with a bunch of judgmental aunties...no way! I felt like all eyes were on me, even though I wasn't flashing anyone and was very private about it. In reality, no one was looking at me. I was overthinking it and nervous for no good reason. Be confident and even if anyone says, "Why can't you do that somewhere else?" or "Why can't you just give her the bottle?" respectfully explain that breastfeeding is completely normal and that the baby won't take the bottle at this time. Keep your response short and simple and do your thing, because nothing is more important at that time than feeding your baby.

I worked so hard to keep my supply up and breastfeeding was going so well Alhamdulilah for both me and Amira. I wasn't going to give up just because it was a little more work for me and made some aunties feel uncomfortable. While looking in the mirror at home, I practiced nursing her with a cover and the nursing clip. I purposely went out with Amira and nursed her at the mall, restaurant, etc. I got her used to the cover and got myself used to doing it in a public setting. It wasn't easy at all, but it's possible! You can do it too! You'll overcome the anxiety just like I did. Trust me.

Disclaimer: Fed is best! If breastfeeding isn't working out or you prefer formula feeding your baby, do your thing. Never let anyone tell you that either option is bad. You know what your baby needs more than anyone else.